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  National Clay Week!
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Clay Source
"Depending on the academic source, there are three or four main groups of clays: kaolinite, montmorillonite-smectite, illite, and chlorite. Chlorites are not always considered a clay, sometimes being classified as a separate group within the phyllosilicates. There are approximately thirty different types of "pure" clays in these categories, but most "natural" clays are mixtures of these different types, along with other weathered minerals."
Food Holidays
Are you celebrating one of the National Holiday?  This page will help make all your celebrations a fun experience; by learning about pottery!

When is National Clay Week Always  Second Week in June!
This holiday was first made popular in the United States-

What is this Holiday about?
National Clay Week's purpose is to bring awareness to and celebrate clay, that wonderful substance of the earth. This holiday is celebrated by making pottery and learning fun facts about clay-

What is Clay?
"Clay is a naturally occurring material composed primarily of fine-grained minerals, which show plasticity through a variable range of water content, and which can be hardened when dried and/or fired. Clay deposits are mostly composed of clay minerals (phyllosilicate minerals), minerals which impart plasticity and harden when fired and/or dried, and variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure by polar attraction. Organic materials which do not impart plasticity may also be a part of clay deposits."

Origin of this Holiday
We believe this holiday was thought up by the Uhrichsville Chamber of Commerce and other civic and labor leaders of an Ohio community back in the 1940s. From what we found out, National Clay Week actually started off as a one-day picnic, with rides, games, and sometimes even fireworks if the year had been good financially.

It looks like in 1950, the celebration was expanded to run for a whole week instead of one day, with a lot more fun things to do. The festival continued year after year until 2001. Unfortunitely we couldn't find any more information about this holiday taking place in Ohio after the year 2001 but we believe this is still a holiday to celebrate.

If this is so, I call upon all of us who play with clay, like to look at clay (and pottery), and who are happy that clay existed in order for coffee mugs to be invented. Rise up! Proclaim the delights of clay during this upcoming 2008 National Clay Week!

How is this holiday celebrated?
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Pottery
"Pottery is the ceramic ware made by potters. Major types of pottery include earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. The places where such wares are made are called potteries. Pottery is one of the oldest human technologies and art-forms, and remains a major industry today. Ceramic art covers the art of pottery, whether in items made for use or purely for decoration."

Background
"Pottery is made by forming a clay body into objects of a required shape and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln to induce reactions that lead to permanent changes, including increasing their strength and hardening and setting their shape. There are wide regional variations in the properties of clays used by potters and this often helps to produce wares that are unique in character to a locality. It is common for clays and other minerals to be mixed to produce clay bodies suited to specific purposes."

"Prior to some shaping processes, air trapped within the clay body needs to be removed. This is called de-airing and can be accomplished by a machine called a vacuum pug or manually by wedging. Wedging can also help to ensure an even moisture content throughout the body. Once a clay body has been de-aired or wedged, it is shaped by a variety of techniques. After shaping it is dried before firing. There are a number of stages in the drying process. Leather-hard refers to the stage when the clay object is approximately 75-85% dry. Clay bodies at this stage are very firm and only slightly pliable. Trimming and handle attachment often occurs at the leather-hard state. Clay bodies are said to be "bone-dry" when they reach a moisture content at or near 0%. Unfired objects are often termed greenware. Clay bodies at this stage are very fragile and hence can be easily broken."

Methods of shaping
"The potter's most basic tools are the hand, but many additional tools have been developed over the long history of pottery manufacture, including the potter's wheel and turntable, shaping tools (paddles, anvils, ribs), rolling tools (roulettes, slab rollers, rolling pins), cutting/piercing tools (knives, fluting tools, wires) and finishing tools (burnishing stones, rasps, chamois)."

History
"It is believed that the earliest pottery wares were hand-built and fired in bonfires. Firing times were short but the peak-temperatures achieved in the fire could be high, perhaps in the region of 900 degrees Celsius, and were reached very quickly. Clays tempered with sand, grit, crushed shell or crushed pottery were often used to make bonfire-fired ceramics, because they provided an open body texture that allows water and other volatile components of the clay to escape freely. The coarser particles in the clay also acted to restrain shrinkage within the bodies of the wares during cooling, which was carried out slowly to reduce the risk of thermal stress and cracking. In the main, early bonfire-fired wares were made with rounded bottoms, to avoid sharp angles that might be susceptible to cracking. The earliest intentionally constructed kilns were pit-kilns or trench-kilns; holes dug in the ground and covered with fuel. Holes in the ground provided insulation and resulted in better control over firing."
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Resources:  This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses some material from Wikipedia/article pottery/ and other related pages. Top photo:
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